The city council is working with Liverpool BID Company to clarify uncertainty over outdoor seating rules and closure times for bars and restaurants on Castle Street.
Most venues on Castle Street hold licences that allow them to serve until 11pm or 11:30pm however, at present, certain areas of their outdoor footprints are governed by different rules imposed last year.
As lockdown restrictions began to ease from last July, Liverpool City Council allowed many venues to extend the boundaries of their outdoor seating areas as part of the city’s Without Walls scheme, enabling them to better take advantage of the Government’s Eat Out to Help Out initiative.
Under the terms of that extension, outdoor furniture had to be packed away by 10pm in accordance with the Government-imposed curfew for the hospitality sector at that time. Almost a year later, this rule still applies to tables that fall within the extended portion of a venue’s outdoor seating area.
However, since outdoor hospitality reopened last month after more recent Covid-19 lockdowns, bars and restaurants have been allowed to continue serving tables housed within their original outdoor areas past 10pm and up to 11pm or 11:30pm depending on the specific terms of their licences. The varying rules mean different closure times apply to different sections of a restaurant or bar.
It sparked confusion in recent days when Helen Bamford, head of events at Liverpool marketing body Downtown in Business, tweeted in outrage on Friday that all bars on Castle Street were being forced to operate under a 10pm curfew, even though venues in other areas of the city could remain open much later, she said.
Absolute kick in the teeth for Castle Street venues who were told last night that all furniture has to be indoors by 10pm yet application for 4am license in Concert Square being considered 😡 pic.twitter.com/1NRSRTgZpT
— Helen Bamford (@helenbamford) April 30, 2021
A spokesperson for Liverpool City Council said the council is “working with partners including the Liverpool BID Company to resolve the inconsistency” and provide greater certainty to hospitality operators on the rules.
Bill Addy, chair of the city’s business improvement district Liverpool BID Company, told Place North West, that both parties hope that the issue will be resolved this week and that Castle Street venues will be able to use the entirety of their outdoor areas to serve customers until 11.30pm each day.
The main reason venues on Castle Street and Bold Street hold licences that only allow them to serve customers until 11:30pm is due to the large amount of traffic in the area, Addy explained.
Areas such as Concert Square on the other hand, where venues generally hold later licences, are not as heavily impacted by traffic and stricter closure rules need not apply.
The hospitality sector was dealt a blow this weekend when the High Court ruled in favour of the Government after Greater Manchester’s nighttime economy advisor Sacha Lord had called for a judicial review into why Whitehall had allowed non-essential retail to reopen before indoor hospitality.
Lord claimed there is no evidence to support the Government’s decision to force the majority of bars and restaurants to remain closed while shops were allowed to reopen.
Following the High Court ruling, Lord said he was disappointed with the decision but that he was “pleased that the case has shone a light on the hospitality sector and the unfair guidance within the recovery roadmap”.